The first thing that many Christians think of when someone brings up the topic of the resurrection, is biological bodies being re-animated and rising out of the dust of the earth. Some will even go so far as to say that, even if one is cremated ( which is frowned upon in most circles ) God is still able to take every particle of ash, from as far as it may have been scattered, and reassemble, re-animate that biological body that once was!
I have written on this subject before, so I might just refer you there, but the subject of the resurrection has become very prevalent of late, so we'll just give it another go-round!:) The gist of the subject at hand, as we saw above, is whether or not individual, biological bodies will be raised ( 'anastasis' ), or whether the biblical resurrection was a metaphor for the corporate redemption of the Body of Israel, which occurred in the first century, with the advent of Jesus, who was the Christ. Even though this event did occur in the first century ( Jesus said 'the hour is coming, and now is' ( John 5:25 ), it is an on-going reality, in a sense, because, as the people of God ( 'The Israel of God' ( Galatians 6:16 ) are awakened to His eternal Presence, a resurrection takes place. I remarked previously that, 'as the corporate Body of Israel, or Christ, is made up of individual human beings, a resurrection of the body ( individual ) was expected'. We are individuals, and as such, our individual bodies have been, in a sense, resurrected. 'How', you say? Well, as we have also explored previously, our physical bodies have been metaphorically awakened; we have had our eyes opened, which has stirred us, in many cases, to take action, action which may be contrary to previous actions, or even inaction!
In my latest article on the resurrection, we saw that the resurrection prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures and looked forward to by faithful Israel, was not that of individual bodies, and not even of biologically dead bodies, for that matter, but was, as Simeon exulted, at the advent of the Son of God, 'Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to [ bring ] revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel' ( Luke 2:29-32 ( Isaiah 42:6, 49:6 ). Zacharias, the father of the fore-runner of Jesus, 'Elijah who is to come' ( Matthew 11:14 ), prophesied in these words, concerning the Christ, 'Blessed [ is ] the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David' ( Luke 1:68 & 69 ) No wonder Nicodemus was confused when Jesus told him 'You must be born again' ( John 3:7 )! He must have thought, as was the tendency by then, with the physically-minded Pharisees, mixing with the Greek thinking of the day, that Jesus was speaking of biological bodies being birthed again after they were already mature. His question said as much! As Jesus assured him, though, He was not speaking of physical bodies being born ( again ) of water ( amniotic fluid ), or naturally, but of the corporate Body of Israel being re-birthed, or resurrected, to the standing of the communion with God which they had previously, of the birth, or anastasis, from above!
We are individuals, there can be no denying that fact, and as such, we have been raised with Christ; we have, in that sense, individually taken part in His death, burial and resurrection. As Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, who were obviously having somewhat the same problem as Nicodemus, even though they were 'individually members', they were all part of 'one body in Christ'. It is not just 'me and Jesus', or even between 'me and God'! Whether you like to use the term 'metaphorical' or not; we are all one Body! Though we are individuals, each with our own different gifts and talents ( indeed; thank God for diversity in the Body of Christ! ); we are not alone: we are to be concerned with the welfare of our brothers and sisters in Christ, to raise them up before the throne of God, in loving prayer, to raise them up from the dung-heap if they have fallen, and to hold them accountable when they stray from communion, the communion of the saints!
Getting back to the subject; it is is recorded in Matthew 1:21 that 'He will save His people from their sins', speaking, of course, of Jesus. Note well that Joseph was not told that 'He will save you from your sins', or even that He will save Mary from her sins'. Nope, not John the Baptist or Nicodemus either. No mention even, of the apostles there, not even His own family! Gabriel told Joseph that Jesus would save His people, all of them, from their sins; as a whole, not just as individuals. All of the above mentioned individuals, or at least, most of them can be included in 'His people', but as His people, as His Body; it is not just us; we are all part of One Body!
So; resurrection, anastasis. We have explored, though not fully, the fact that Israel after the flesh, those who had apostatized from the covenant, had become a dead body. We saw, in Ezekiel 37, that the prophet was given a vision of the future, where God showed him that the dead, or useless, body of Israel would be raised up, and given new life; reborn, you might say. In this vision, we see that it was not body by body that was re-covered ( with sinew, flesh ); it was not individual bodies that received 'the breath of life', but that the prophet was instructed to call 'to the breath', and to say 'Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live'; not each individual body, not some, and not others, but 'these slain'; all of them, together!
One last note to consider; we saw that, besides referring to 'a raising up'; anastasis also indicates 'removal' ( Hebrews 12:27 ). This removal was, as we have seen, the taking away of our sins, the sins of the people of God, and of the curtain, or veil that separated them from His holy and enduring Presence. This removal was begun in the first century, with, among other things, the ripping of the veil of the Temple, upon the words of Jesus, 'It is finished', and was decisively accomplished in AD70, with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, removing the last vestiges of that Old Covenant economy, or system of worship; now the people of God were free, free to worship 'in spirit and truth'!
In the Spirit of anastasis,
Charles Haddon Shank